It’s pretty typical these days to be reminded to turn off your cell phone at the start of movies, theater performances, classes, religious services, and so forth.  At last week’s performance of Einstein’s Dreams, I was pleasantly surprised that no devices sounded off during the show, but I did hear a strange sound a couple of times, and only just realized that it was.  It’s the “pop” noise made when you change the volume on an apple computer.  The music for the show was performed or at least filtered through a mac, and the musician was adjusting the volume.

Thinking back, I also remember that at the start of the show, when we were asked to shut down our devices, I heard all sorts of “shut down” noises.  That doesn’t seem like a good idea.  What if you realized during the show that you hadn’t shut down your device?  Some flip and slider phones even make a noise when you open them.  Maybe you just have to discreetly pop off the battery.

Two cases of machines making noises not because they have to, but because it makes them easier to use, but also two cases where those noises might not be so welcome.

I’ve learned that if you hold down the shift key while adjusting the volume on my mac, the volume feedback noise is suppressed.  You can still use the on-screen volume bar to see how high it is.  For the phones, I’m less sure if there’s an easy solution other than painstakingly customizing the sound scheme.  It reminds me this classic Bugs Bunny short, Bugs and Thugs, which contains this bit of dialogue:

Rocky: SHUT UP!
Bugs Bunny: Shut u-up? Why certainly! You don’t think I’m the type that would keep on blabbin’? Some people never know when to stop. When I’m told to shut up, I shut up…
Rocky: [sticks gun in Bugs’s face] Shut UP shut-in’ up!

The bit occurs a bit after the 2:00 minute mark on this clip.